Deliciously named, Paid Content tells us why customer service via social channels can be viewed as a failure. I believe that we can dig a bit further to see a few short comings of customer service and six sigma training in general.
I have had six sigma training thrust at me before and while it definitely has its’ merits I prefer an approach that focuses much better on variable causality than six sigma can offer. Six Sigma excels in mechanical environments that can guarantee the outcome of a situation over 95% of the time but fails at more volatile situations like customer service. It fails because at its’ core it treats customer service like an assembly line and encourages processes that rarely make room for deviation. When you’re dealing with human beings you are going to deal strongly with deviation, even if the instructions are to make a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich you’re going to see dozen different things happen with a dozen different people. Processes must be planned around known and possible deviations to receive the best results but that’s much more easier said and Morse coded in Chinese with a piece of gum than done.
One reason for the difficulty in dealing with people is that people are dealing with people. The emotional aspect of customer service is often swept under the rug and is treated as a nuisance that just can’t be dealt with because it’s fairly difficult to do so. Customer service representatives are exactly that, representatives of the company that they work for. Each person is essentially a human resources associate that must work directly with the wildly different personas of their customers within a strict set of rules while maintaining a shield that bounces the less flattering portions of the job off of the representative. I don’t know about you but I can’t sit at a phone and be called a mother fucker, ass hole, inept or many, MANY racial slurs for 8 hours a day while navigating a labyrinth of processes across a greater assembly line that gets the customer from point a to point b while the customers deviations may require that a simpler path be blazed.
Six Sigma definitely works outside of customer service very well. It can also work well within customer service but only when the human factor is destroyed. About 70-80% of people calling into tech support or walking into McDonalds or the Car Wash (what, Fred Flintstone walks and runs while driving his vehicle) are decent folk that are just one “we’re out of big mac sauce” message away from joining the other 20-30% of the people that are off of the wall furious with their service or product. They were sold a pretzel but wasn’t told that the cheese costs extra. They bought an Ikea couch and are upset that they have to assemble it themselves. Businesses grow customers through education and most education comes from marketing and sales. Those two departments should be honest as Abe but instead aren’t fit to be the dung on his shoes in some cases due to, what’s that again Audience? Say it with me now, you’re ready? The Human Factor.
You see, Six Sigma got the product created with less than 2% defects because it worked.They got the technical troubleshooting created excellently to cover most issues… because it works. It helped to forge and maintain business partnerships because it works. It got that product or service into the awareness of the customer because of the market research execution that it created, custom made for your britches… because it works. It had your representative sell it with that plan because it works. Your consumer wasn’t truly yours and is upset and wants to leave but is a proletariat at heart so they’ll just bend over and take it from Six Sigma because Six Sigma is working them. Six Sigma has failed them because the humans in the operation work… for money, themselves and others. Sales followed your plan but also did a bit of process variation reduction with a bit of adaptive problem recognition because they work.
What that means is that they hear the customer and “know” that they won’t buy what your selling so they will lie or omit information so that they can receive their pay checks because they work. Marketing will work quite a bit outside of reason to sell the crap that their given so that they can advance and keep their jobs because they can’t do anything else because you brought them in too late in the process or didn’t explain the product or service to them correctly in development because engineering and development wanted to pursue their work. Now we have something that many people don’t want but think that they do want because people helped bring it into creation to earn money because, come on now. Say it crowd. Because they worked. Now lets go further down the rung to the ones that must make it all work. Customer/Technical support.
They follow the excellently planned procedures and attempt to lower customer attrition rate but deal with a righteously pissed off person because the rest of your company worked to rape them and have them smile about it. The customer will work that agent over while the customer works because the rest of the group worked. Then guess what? Guess what happens? Guess what is next? Audience, must I constantly lead you on to tell you what is next? Everyone is working everyone else over because Six Sigma training was applied poorly and irrelevantly because it only works for the trainers and the certifiers so that they may work. Social media customer service is a failure because social media works at getting people to blab and open up their minds but customer service is a closed parachute attempting to socialize with other parachutes of varying levels of openness but it’s hitting the grown quick and hard because it wants to work.